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Archive for the ‘American Accent’ Category

Sound More American

Exercise your speech to acquire the American accentSome people want to learn the American Accent so that they will sound better when they speak in English; others are simply interested in the potential benefits that they may reap from having the ability to speak English with an American Accent. Of course, there are also some people who simply want to be able to communicate more effectively in English. No matter what your goal may be, if you wish to learn how to speak English with an American Accent, you need to exercise your speech. Here are some tips for working on your voice:

Consonants

The /θ/ and /ð/ sounds

One of the most difficult consonant sounds for non-native speakers is the “TH”. It has two pronunciation /θ/ sound as in ‘think’ and /ð/ sound as in ‘that’. In order to make this sound the tip of the tongue should touch the edges of the front teeth, and the tip of the tongue vibrates a bit while air flows out through the tongue and upper teeth. It’s also acceptable to just touch the back of the front teeth as long as the air is flowing through. Many Egyptian speakers tend to substitute a /s/ or /z/ for /θ/ and /ð/.

Word Pairs for Practice 

Word Contrasts for /s/ Versus /θ/

/s/

/θ/

mass math
tense tenth
sing thing
sank thank

 

Word Contrasts for /z/ Versus /ð/

/z/

/ð/ 

close clothe
bays bathe
breeze breathe
Zen then

i.e. Make sure that you don’t pronounce the words in each pair the same way

The /s/ Sound

Many Egyptian speakers tend to add a vowel in front of the “s” when it comes in the initial position of the word. Make sure you don’t inadvertently insert an extra vowel sound when you say English words beginning with s. Here are some common words that demonstrate the “s” problem.

Arabic English
e-spanish Spanish
e-study study
e-steven Steven

 

Pronouncing Gerund

Over-pronouncing “ing” is another common mistake for Egyptian speakers. Make sure you don’t release the /g/ sound in words that end with ing, such as going and doing. When you pronounce the /n/ sound as in thin, the tip of the tongue touches the gum ridge, just behind the teeth, but the /ŋ/ sound as in thing the tip of the tongue is down, not touching anywhere. The back of the tongue is up, touching the soft palate which is located in the back of your mouth.

The /r/ Sound

Simply curl the tip of your tongue and pull it back a bit; keep the tongue tense and do not touch anything in your mouth.

Sentences for practice

Erica threw three red rocks
I heard that the alternative procedure was better
For your information, they’re not divorced

 

i.e. The /r/ sound in the American accent is never silent

Vowels

The /eɪ/ Sound
Egyptian speakers tend to pronounce /eɪ/ (as in take) as /ɛ/, here are some examples of words that tend to sound the same when Egyptian speakers pronounce them:

/ɛ/ /eɪ/
tech take
sell sale
test taste
west waste

 

The /ɔ/ Sound
Be careful that your /ɔ/ sound (as in saw) is not influenced by the very different British version of this sound. In British English pause sounds almost like “pose,” but in American English it sounds much more like /pɑz/, and has the same /ɑ/ sound as in father or watch.

Word Contrasts for Practice
Make sure you don’t pronounce the two words in each pair the same way:

/oʊ/ /ɔ/
low law
boat bought
coat caught
woke walk
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Intonation

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Intonation is the melody of language and comes from the ups and downs of pitch and stress in a language. This
rising and falling melody is used to communicate our intentions and our emotions. In English, a stressed syllable is longer, clearer, stronger and often higher in pitch than an unstressed syllable. Intonation also gives information that words alone cannot give. It can indicate anger, surprise, confusion, hesitation, sarcasm, interest, or lack of interest. If your speech has good intonation it will be more dynamic and more interesting to listen to.

Falling Intonation
Lower your voice at the end of the sentence to produce a “falling intonation.” This intonation
is used for a variety of reasons:

Statements
Falling intonation is used in simple sentences that are not questions. For example:

– My name is John.
– It’s nice to meet you.
– Have a nice day.
– I’m going outside.
– I’ll be back in a minute.

Questions
Falling intonation is also used when asking questions if they contain interrogative words such
as where, what, why, when, how, and who. For example:

– What’s his name?
– What are you thinking about?
– How are you doing?
– When does it start?
– Who told you?

Rising Intonation
Raise the pitch of your voice at the end of a sentence to create “rising intonation.” Rising intonation is used in “yes/no questions.” For example, “Did you see it?” is a “yes/no” question. It can be answered with either a “yes” or a “no.” Compare that question with this one: “When did you see it?” this one cannot be answered by a simple “yes” or “no.”

Practice Sentences
1. Did he work yesterday?
2. Does he know about it?
3. Can you call me at five?
4. Is it good?
5. Is that it?
6. Excuse me?
7. Really?

The Crazy T

The Crazy T

The Crazy T

Let us start with one of the most distinctly American consonants, the letter t. The letter “t” can be pronounced in several different ways, depending on its position in a word and depending on the other sounds that surround it.

The Strong T

This is the regular, fully pronounced /t/ sound. The tip of the tongue is touching and releasing the gum ridge, which is the upper part of the mouth, right behind the front teeth. It sounds /t/ when it’s in the beginning of a word, or at the beginning of a primary or secondary stressed syllable. For example: Tom, time, table, maintain, photographer, Italian.

The Silent T

When you make the /n/ sound, the tongue goes up and the front of the tongue touches the roof of the mouth. This is the same as the starting position for the ‘t’ sound. So instead of trying to make two separate sounds, just don’t say the T! For example: internet, interface, interview, international, percentage and painter.

There are two different spelling patterns, the -sten pattern, as in the word listen, fasten, moisten and glisten, and the -stle pattern, as in the word whistle, castle, hustle, nestle, rustle, bustle and gristle. Both of those patterns are pronounced with no t sound.

The Held T

let the tongue stay on top, touching the gum ridge, with no air coming out when you say the t. Try to press the vocal cords together to stop the airflow, and then release.

When should I held the T?
The t is held when it is followed by an /n/ sound within a word, for example: certain, mountain, cotton, eaten, forgotten, gotten, lighten, Britain, written, frighten or when the “t” comes in the final position of the word. For example: cat, right, that white, yet, plate, foot, fat and heat.

The Flap T

When a t is between two vowels, it is generally pronounced like a fast /d/ sound. It also sounds the same as the “rolling r” sound of Arabic, when the tip of the tongue touches the upper gum ridge. This sound is also sometimes called a “tapped t” because you quickly tap the tip of the tongue on the gum ridge when pronouncing it. For example: better, little, beautiful, butter. When the t comes after an “r” and a vowel, the t should be tapped. For example: party and forty.

The /tʃr/ Sound:

When a t is followed by an /r/ sound, the t changes and becomes an almost /tʃ/ sound. To create this sound correctly, say /tʃ/ as in chain , but just make the tip of the tongue a bit more tense when it touches the gum ridge, and focus on creating a stop of air. For example: travel, tradition, translate, traffic, turn, Turkey, introduce, interest, extremely and terrific.

Accent Reduction Training!

Voice Coach

American Accent Acquisition Coach Amr Rady

My name is Amr Rady. I am an American Accent Acquisition Speech and Voice Coach and Instructor who has helped engineers, IT professionals, accountants, doctors and professors improve their American Accent and speak American English more clearly and confidently. I am the founder of the American Department at Harvest British College. On this blog, I will be giving some tips on how to reduce your accent. I will be giving my advice to people who want to improve their accents and will be answering your questions about how to pronounce correctly like American native speakers.

Why I am starting this blog?
I have started this blog because some, if not all, my students have difficulties in preparing for their job interviews. They are worried that they might not get hired if their accent is too strong. This is particularly true for sales positions or any kind of job that requires giving presentations or interacting with the public.

What Is Accent?
Accent is a combination of three main components: intonation (speech music), liaisons (word connections), and pronunciation (the spoken sounds of vowels, consonants, and combinations). As you go along, you will notice that you’re being asked to look at accent in a different way. You’ll also realize that the grammar you studied before and this accent you’re studying now are completely different. Part of the difference is that grammar and vocabulary are systematic and structured— the letter of the language. Accent, on the other hand, is free form, intuitive, and creative— more the spirit of the language. So, thinking of music, feeling, and flow, let your mouth relax into the American accent.

Can I Learn a New Accent?
Many people feel that after a certain age, it is just not possible. Can classical musicians play jazz? If they practice, of course they can! For your American accent, it is just a matter of learning and practicing techniques. It is up to you to use them or not. How well you do depends mainly on how open and willing you are to sounding different from the way you have sounded all your life. A very important thing you need to remember is that you can use your accent to say what you mean and how you mean it. Word stress conveys meaning through tone or feeling, which can be much more important than the actual words that you use.

Am I going to change my heritage?
Many people fear that if they work on losing their accent, that they are turning their back on their family and their native culture. Please do not let this fear keep you from doing something that you know will benefit you. No one is asking you to forget your heritage or pretend you are someone you are not. When we talk about losing or reducing your accent, we are really talking about changing those parts of your pronunciation that make your English difficult for others to understand. Most people, even after completing accent reduction classes, will still have traces of their accent in their everyday speech. Ideally, your goal is not to eliminate the accent completely, but to change the parts of it that make it difficult to understand. Ultimately, the goal should be to have the best of both worlds: an accent that sets you apart as a native of your homeland while still being completely understandable in English.